Avian Influenza (H5N1) in mammals: Defra advice for pet owners

22 August 2023

Avian influenza viruses can infect mammals, including cats, dogs and ferrets.

Veterinary staff in small animal practice may wish to be aware of new Defra/APHA advice (15/08/23) to pet owners on how to keep their pet safe from avian influenza. This includes owners or keepers of working dogs used on shoots.

The Guidance advises pet owners to contact their vet if they have any concerns regarding the health of their pet. They should make their vet aware if their pet has been in contact with wild birds or if it has eaten non-commercial raw meat or non-commercial treats containing raw meat or unprocessed animal by products.

Also included in the Guidance is advice for vets in practice if they suspect a pet may have been infected with a bird flu virus. This includes notifying APHA of their suspicions and also, of any evidence of a bird flu virus or antibodies to a bird flu virus in samples taken from a pet. The following link provides information about the laboratory testing and reporting process for vets.

Detailed information from Defra/APHA is available via the following link Bird flu: how to keep pets safe – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)